Something as simple as font choice can help people facing reading challenges from dyslexia to comprehend written text clearer. Learn about top choices below.
Can a font significantly affect a person’s ability to read documents, books, emails, and other files? Even people without reading difficulties find some fonts too challenging to process.
That’s why it makes perfect sense that some fonts can help a person with dyslexia more than others.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty characterized by problems with reading, spelling, and sometimes writing. But it’s not exactly a learning disability because it doesn’t affect intelligence. It makes it harder for people to focus, decode language, and assimilate information from traditional learning techniques.
It affects specific parts of the brain responsible for processing language, especially in written form. But while it doesn’t have a cure, there are treatments and coping methods that help dyslexic people keep up with others and achieve success.
The effects of dyslexia on reading and writing
Dyslexia makes it challenging to decode writing, verbalize, or recognize words. It can cause people to confuse similar letters and lower their phonemic awareness. Low phonemic awareness leads to difficulty in distinguishing sounds.
All of these effects result in poor reading fluency.
In addition, the inability to identify auditory distinctions, like nuance and specific letter and sound combinations, results in a reading deficiency. Reading deficient people have a harder time spelling words correctly, leading to below-average writing skills expected of their age groups.
How fonts can help people with dyslexia
Reading skills in dyslexic readers are not beyond improvement. Anyone with a mild or severe case of dyslexia can get better at reading. All it takes is dedication, focus, and the proper reading aids.
Introducing dyslexia-friendly fonts is one of the quickest adjustments dyslexic people can make.
Some of these fonts may have thicker lines and slants and accentuate specific lines in a letter. These differences can help make similar letters more distinguishable. For those looking for a font, you can use a font generator to find a dyslexia-friendly font.
The less time people spend being confused by a piece of text, the more time they have to focus on remembering specific sound-to-letter associations.
Generally, line spacing is a significant issue that many italic fonts share. It’s what makes it hard to read regular lowercase and capital letters in paragraphs and headings.
If you have a reading impairment and use dyslexia-friendly fonts, you can improve several aspects of the reading comprehension and language decoding:
- Reading speed
- Reading accuracy
- Letter recognition
The best fonts for dyslexia
No font ever emerged as the optimal choice for dyslexic people. That’s because dyslexia doesn’t affect everyone equally. Therefore, one person’s solution could be unique to them and no one else.
One of the most significant benefits of the Arial font is its broad compatibility with most word processors. In addition, it’s open source and free, meaning you can read and write in Arial whenever you want.
Arial is a sans serif-type font. Its letters show decent roundness giving them a better definition. Well-defined letter lines can help eliminate confusion between similar words and letters and improve people’s association skills.
Verdana is a special font for on-screen reading. Its characteristics include wide letter spacing and higher readability even in small sizes.
It’s also a sans serif font, which lacks slanted lines, italic lines, and letter projections. Verdana focuses on accessibility and clarity over aesthetics.
Sans Serif Font
Sans Serif is both a font style and a standalone font. When initially developed, the font came without serif or the tiny projections and long-tail features used at the end of some letters. Serifs can make fonts more aesthetically pleasing but don’t do anything to improve readability.
Therefore, the Sans Serif font keeps things simple to avoid confusion or giving readers too much to focus on besides the written text.
Times New Roman
Times New Roman is part of a long list of roman fonts in sans serif style with a clean look and no embellishments. It has vertical lines and a good separation between letters.
Because of its popularity, this font can help dyslexic kids, students, and adults read faster in any environment.
The Comic Sans font is one of the more unique dyslexia fonts. Unlike most sans serif fonts, Comic Sans distinguishes itself through irregularity. But the weird design makes reading easier for those with reading difficulties.
Each letter is unique, meaning it’s hard to confuse readers. You could say that the “b” and “d” letters are still somewhat mirror-like. But no other letter in the alphabet should cause extra difficulty reading.
Different font alternatives
The British Dyslexia Association style guide recommends other less crowded fonts as excellent alternatives:
- Century Gothic
- Courier (one of the few remaining monospaced fonts)
The style guide also recommends a minimum font size of 12pt, larger line spacing, not using any underlining and bolding, and formatting text with wider spacing for increased legibility.
Two more fonts might help in your quest to create a less confusing reading experience:
- Dyslexie – The Dyslexie font by Christian Boer has long stems, unique shapes, and bold bottoms. It makes each letter genuinely unique and easy to make out from others.
- OpenDyslexic – The OpenDyslexic font is free, open-source, and has comfortable spacing. The heavy bottom lines and thin tops prevent flipping.
Using text to speech as an alternative to help with dyslexia
Although fonts assist, they’re not solely responsible for great results. Good fonts for dyslexia have a more significant impact when combined with other tools, like text to speech (TTS) technology.
TTS can process written content and convert it into an audio narration using computer-generated voices. The quality of the voices has evolved over the years, and platforms like Speechify can generate narrations with human-like voices, different dialects, and enough nuance.
Think of it as turning any text into an audiobook where the narrator accounts for grammar and punctuation.
Speechify can put a hefty dose of realism into its audiobooks. Additionally, it offers word highlighting to improve eye-tracking in dyslexic readers. It’s one of the most effective reading aids for people with dyslexia in all age groups.
Reading a dyslexia-friendly font while hearing the correct pronunciation can help people improve their reading performance, speed, accuracy, focus, and pattern recognition. Furthermore, Speechify can help with mild to severe cases of dyslexia.
Thanks to its adjustable playback, volume, and grammar corrector, anyone can use Speechify to read at a comfortable speed and see real progress over time.
But the benefits of Speechify don’t stop here. It can turn any text – Google Doc, Microsoft Word Docs, PDF, webpages, and other formats – into audiobooks. Therefore, you can convert hard copy books and school textbooks into audiobooks and study from materials that would have been otherwise too confusing and hard to decode.
Try Speechify for yourself and see quick reading and writing improvements even during the trial run.
What color font is best for dyslexia?
Dark fonts are preferable to light fonts and work best on any non-white but light background.
Is Comic Sans best for dyslexia?
Comic Sans is a good dyslexia font but not necessarily the best. It can be the best for certain people, while others might find alternative fonts easier to read.